Study highlights value of tort reforms

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Aug. 2, 2004

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Awards in medical malpractice lawsuits are cut 30%, thanks to California tort reform that caps noneconomic damages at $250,000, according to a new study by Rand Corp., a nonprofit research organization.

Because California's law also limits how much attorneys are allowed to collect, plaintiffs are receiving only 15% less than they would without the California Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act. Lawyers, though, are collecting 60% less than they did before MICRA. California's tort reform was passed in 1975 as an answer to a medical liability insurance problem.

The Rand Institute for Civil Justice analyzed 257 California cases in which the plaintiff won. The trials took place between 1995 and 1999.

"While MICRA's impact on claims that do not reach trial is difficult to measure, the law has had a direct and observable role in about half the malpractice cases where there is a verdict for the plaintiffs," lead researcher Nicholas M. Pace said in a statement. "For defendants, for plaintiffs and for attorneys, MICRA has clearly changed the playing field upon which malpractice claims are litigated in California."

California juries make awards, and judges later adjust them to comply with MICRA. The study, "Capping Noneconomic Awards in Medical Malpractice Trials: California Jury Verdicts Under MICRA," found that:

Note: This item originally appeared at

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